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Limburg governor Van Voorst tot Voorst receives U.S. award

Booster of Margraten war cemetery

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

MAASTRICHT - The departing Queen’s Commissioner for the province of Limburg, Berend-Jan M. Baron Van Voorst tot Voorst (61), has received the Commander's Award for Public Service, a prestigeous U.S. military decoration. The provincial governor was recognized for his long dedication to the U.S. war cemetery at Margraten.

According to the official document accompanying the award presented by U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, Clifford M. Sobel, Van Voorst tot Voorst’s ”selfless dedication merits great respect. With it, the Governor has shown himself to be a true friend of the American war cemetery at Margraten, the 254the Batalion, the Allied Forces at Brunsum and to the U.S. government.”

The Commander's Award for Public Service is the fourth highest public service honourary award that can be granted to a private citizen. This award is given to recognize service or achievements that contribute significantly to the accomplishment of the mission of an Army activity, command, or staff agency.

On July 1, 2005, Van Voorst tot Voorst will retire after twelve-year as Queen’s Commissioner. His successor is Léon Frissen, a regional mayor. Baron Van Voorst tot Voorst, is a former junior cabinet member for Foreign Affairs and of Defense.

The Margraten War Cemetery first was used for a burial on November 10, 1944. Currently there are 8,302 graves of U.S. servicemen, most of whom casualties of the Battle of the Bulge (Ardennes) or of the Battle of Arnhem. Since World War II, a number of remains was repatriated to U.S. soil. Because of the dedication of the area’s population to visit the graves of those who fell during the Liberation in 1944 and 1945, many families opted to keep the remains of their loved ones in Margraten. For many years, the war cemetery was the only one in Europe receiving such care from the local population, through an ongoing graves adoption program.

On May 8, 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush, and Dutch Queen Beatrix joined thousands of veterans and family members of those buried at Margraten, in a ceremony marking the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War II.